LONG ISLAND CITY – Rent Control, written and performed by Evan Zes, is his personal story of survival as a struggling actor living in the heart of New York City. After back-to-back sold out runs at the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival, following the 2016 Fringe Encore Series, a performance at Ruby Theater at the Complex Hollywood, and a successful run in May at the Greek Cultural Center in Astoria, Rent Control returns to the Greek Cultural Center on Friday, November 3 and Saturday, November 4 at 8 PM and Sunday November 5 at 5 PM as well as Friday, November 10 and Saturday, November 11 at 8 PM and Sunday, November 12 at 5 PM.
Actor/writer Evan Zes, recently seen in Arthur Miller’s critically acclaimed Incident at Vichy at the Signature Theatre, portrays some 30 different characters in this wild-but true, one-man-play that recounts a period in his life as he struggled to survive while pursuing his acting career in New York City.
When Evan falls backwards into one of the few remaining rent-controlled apartments in New York City, he finds a way to make money and pursue his dream, turning the apartment into a lucrative Airbnb scheme – that is until his moneymaking scheme backfires threatening to ruin his life. This cautionary tale of greed and redemption has had audiences howling with laughter and on the edge of their seats. Critics have called it “cheerfully profane,” a “surprise thriller,’’ and “dangerously hilarious.”
Now living in Astoria, Zes visited the offices of The National Herald in Long Island City for an interview about his work and the latest run of Rent Control. He told TNH that he has been refining the play and “finding the heart more,” since the last run in Astoria, and “stripping away what I don’t need.”
Zes also mentioned the family roots from Levidi on his father’s side and the island of Kythera on his mother’s side. He said, “My mom, Teddi Zes, is from Kythera. Her father, Angelo Chlentzos, came over through Ellis Island when he was 11, by himself, with a note pinned to his chest that said, ‘San Francisco.’ He had a cousin opening a restaurant out west. He went back to Kythera when he was 30 to find his wife, Stamatoula Chlentzos. He married her and brought her back to America in the Bay Area where she lived to be 107.”
Zes’ father, Dr. Tikey A. Zes has directed Greek Orthodox choirs since 1953 and has been the director of the St. Nicholas Choir of San Jose, CA since 1971. Dr. Zes has been guest conductor and workshop clinician for the Greek Orthodox Choir Federations throughout the United States and has composed/arranged extensively for the services of the Orthodox Church, including 5 liturgies (one in English). In addition, he has written numerous arrangements/compositions for chorus and piano based on Greek folk and popular songs. In 1976, he received the Patriarch title of “Offikion” (letter of patent) from the Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrius and was conferred as “Archon of the Great Church of Christ” for his distinguished work in Church Music. As his son pointed out, Dr. Zes just turned 90 years old and continues to travel, compose, and conduct. The family held a big party to celebrate the milestone birthday, though Dr. Zes looks 70 rather than 90. “He’s thinking about his legacy now and he’s building a website now at 90,” Zes told TNH. “He’s my hero,” he said of his father.
Plans to bring Rent Control to Athens in July for 4 performances are also in the works, Zes told TNH, which could coincide with a family vacation including his parents, brother and sister-in-law, as well as other members of the extended family. He has been in talks with Greek actor, writer, director, and producer Yannis Simonides about the play. Spending three weeks in Greece is a welcome prospect for Zes who has been busy working across the country in various theatrical productions. He will begin rehearsals soon for a role in the critically-acclaimed 39 Steps in which he will also be playing multiple characters. In January, Zes will be appearing in Hartford in Murder on the Orient Express, then he hopes to bring Rent Control to the Bay Area to perform for family and friends, in “a homecoming,” he said since he grew up in the area.
Tickets are currently available for Rent Control at the Greek Cultural Center, 26-80 30th Street in Astoria, online at: at www.greekculturalcenter.org or by phone: 718-726-7329.
More information about the play is available online at: www.evanzesrentcontrol.com.
Postcard for Rent Control at the Greek Cultural Center in Astoria. Photo: Courtesy of Evan Zes